Judge bars repair business at towing company location Zoning issues are focus of Baltimore Co. battle

October 09, 1997|By Jay Apperson | Jay Apperson,SUN STAFF

As part of a years-long legal battle, a Baltimore County judge barred a towing company yesterday from operating a garage and gas station on residentially zoned land in a rural section of Owings Mills.

Evan M. Shifren, co-owner with his wife of Hi-Caliber Towing & Auto Repair, will be allowed to park tow trucks at his property in Worthington Valley. But under an injunction signed by District Judge Barbara R. Jung, Shifren, who is president of the company, could face a contempt citation if he resumes selling gasoline or repairing cars there.

The injunction was the latest move in the legal battle involving the company, which is fighting to save its repair business in the 12000 block of Park Heights Ave., north of Caves Valley Golf Club.

Shifren and his wife, Cindy, bought the property, for decades the site of mom-and-pop gas stations, in 1992. In 1995, a county circuit judge ruled that the business was in conflict with the land's residential zoning.

After that ruling, more than a dozen inspections found that the company was continuing to operate a repair garage, zoning inspector Jeffrey N. Perlow testified yesterday in District Court.

Evan Shifren testified that he no longer sells gasoline or does repairs there, but Jung said she would sign the injunction because evidence showed he had violated zoning laws.

"I should be able to work for a living," Shifren told the judge.

"Nobody says you can't work," Jung responded. "You just can't have a business in a residential area."

Shifren said he will continue to operate his towing service and work as a "mobile mechanic." He is continuing to seek zoning approval for his repair business.

At issue is whether the property has been used continuously as a gas station since it was zoned. The county board of appeals found that the business was closed from 1986 to 1988 and ruled that the right to use the property for a service station had been forfeited. The Circuit Court upheld that ruling.

Shifren asked a zoning commissioner this year to rehear testimony on the issue, saying false testimony was given in the first case.

The commissioner ruled in August that Shifren had had his day in court. Shifren has appealed.

Pub Date: 10/09/97

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